Parang, the distinctive blend of Venezuelan music and Trinidadian rhythms, is a staple for Trini Christmas. Lopinot, home to the historical site of Compte De Lopinot Complex, is a major stomping ground for parang celebrations. So it was not surprising when PRO of the National Parang Association of Trinidad and Tobago (NPATT) Michael Lezama said Parang Season 2012 would be officially launched at Lopinot Recreation Ground on October 6. It ends officially on December 12 at the Arima Tennis Courts with the newly instituted Peoples’ Choice Competition. It is expected to cost about $1 million. Interviewed on Thursday, Lezama said they would be assisted by the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism (Dr Lincoln Douglas). “They would contribute about $620,000. The Association would have to make up the rest through sponsorship and gate receipts,” he added. Lezama explained why they selected Lopinot as the venue for the launch: “We have a lot of parranderos in Lopinot. A lot of cultural festivals like the Venezuelan Festival of the May Cross are held there. The area is famous for pastelles and pamee” Parang, he said, “is about love, people dancing and singing and having a good time. It is a sacred time to remember the birth of Jesus Christo (Jesus Christ).”
‘Trial and error year’
Lezama explained they were not staging the aguinaldo competition which was held for the past 40 years. Instead they were replacing it with four major competitions—an instrumental, parang/soca competition, Battle of the Sexes and People’s Choice. He said, “We are eliminating the single competition. This is the year of trial and error. We are innovating. We have included pan music in the instrumental competition. We have an electric base in the mini competitions. The groups can pick any song in the parang/soca competition... whether it be classical or calypso and put it in a parang beat.” Lezama explained that Tribute to the Icons and Vintage Night were intended to lure new parang connoisseurs and educate people about parang and its contributors. He added, “We want to see if we could attract a new crowd to the festival on Vintage Night. The new people don’t know the significance of the contribution made by parang icons. They are not familiar with their music. We are trying to bring back certain types of traditional parang music, and, probably perform some nostalgic pieces in the Tribute to Icons segment.” Among parang’s trailblazers are the late Daisy Voisin, Tito Lara, Soltero Gomez, Learie Collymore, Sylvester Mata Paul Castillo, Clarita Rivas, Cecil Fuentes and Henry Perreira. Chief among the parang groups are La Divina Pastora, La Sagrada Familia, Los Muchachos del Agua, Los Pavitos, La Libertad, Las Estrellitas, Ay Caramba, La Tropical, Los Caballeros, La Familia de Rio Claro, Los Hermanos Lara, La Estrella de Oriente, La Santa Maria, Santa Rosa, Los Amigos, Los Campaneros, and Rancho Quemado.
Authentic parang music is played using instruments like cuatro, maracs, box bass, guitar drum and other light percussion such as the clak-clak and tok-tok. It is a sacred; often upbeat music, which promotes joyous dancing. During the Christmas songs focus on Nativity scenes (Jesus, Mary and Joseph). The various parang expressions include the Aguinaldo, Serenal, Guarapo, Estribillo, Manzanares and Joropo. Beautiful women tuck blossoms in their hair. Flowing skirts and chunky jewelry are worn. Men opt for waistcoats and colourful shirts. Edwin “Crazy” Ayoung created the widely popular soca/parang genre. His pioneering days began with the classic “Maria” back in 1978. The genre was embraced by bards like Scrunter (Piece Ah Pork) and Baron (Spanish Woman).
Parang 2012 itinerary
October 6–Lopinot Recreation Ground
October 13– Palo Seco Sports Club
UWI Common Room, St Augustine
UTT Campus, off O’Meara Road, Arima
Tabaquite High School
Arima Tennis Courts–Instrumental competition